Copy of our letter of complaint to Costa - hope it is useful to those not yet having booked with this company
1. At the time of booking we specifically requested an inside cabin with a double bed, we were assured that our request would be met. This holiday was to be a holiday of a lifetime for us, one that we had saved hard for. On arrival on the ship in Singapore we were shown to our cabin, which much to our dismay had twin beds with a large pillar in between. We mentioned at the time to the steward that the bed arrangements were not what we had requested. The very helpful cabin steward advised us to speak to customer services, which we duly did. The customer service desk was most unhelpful to the point of being very rude and we were informed that the ship was full, nothing they could do. The attitude of the staff was brusque to say the least, to add insult to injury, someone having only recently booked (a few days ahead of the cruise) were not only given a cabin of their choice but were in fact upgraded)! This we are sorry to say was only the start of what for us was a very disappointing cruise experience.
2. The English speaking hostess Rebekah was very unprofessional, her welcome to Costa presentation was full of spelling mistakes, her presentation skills poor and she basically told us nothing, in fact her audience had more information from the website than she was able to give us, another hard sell for the overly priced shore trips! We never found her helpful, much the opposite; her manner was very rude and dismissive! We had constant excuses ranging from the ship has only just come out of dry dock, the crew are new and still being trained, it’s an old ship, it can’t carry enough people to warrant paying for good entertainment, she even told customers she was fed of complaints and wanted to get off in Hong Kong! – Very poor customer service
3. We quite often found that uniformed crew and hostesses were served before guests in the Murano bar, equally the crew did not associate with guests whilst in the Murano bar – very poor customer service
4. The evening entertainment was diabolical, in fact it was an insult to adults, very cheap holiday camp type – very poor customer service
5. Almost every day there were basic mistakes on the Today programmes distributed to the guests, they ranged from half the programmes stating gala dinner (smart dress) to casual dress, causing great confusion, to publishing the wrong times for cocktails with the Captain, the list is endless, where is your quality control? Exceedingly poor customer service
6. We were on the second dinner sitting (by request) and had the most helpful waiter ever Jose (table 28), who ran round all the tables he was responsible for to ensure all his customers needs were met (excellent customer service, any top restaurant would be proud to have him in their employ). However, we did have to make a complaint regarding the tepid temperature of the food set in front of us (not the waiters fault). As we pointed out there are EU regulations regarding the temperature of food being served (under food hygiene and health & safety regulations). We will hasten to add once we had complained there was a marked increase in the temperature of the food being served. But where was your quality control?
7. We had visited the Costa website endlessly before the start of our holiday so we were very well informed regarding dress codes etc. Even in the documentation we received it stated that shorts would NOT be permitted in the dining room in an evening and that gentlemen should wear jackets, hence we packed appropriate clothing. To our great dismay, jeans, sandals, shorts, in fact anything you wanted was permitted. Why? There was a self-service restaurant upstairs for those who did not wish to smartly dress, why state a dress code and then not follow it? A very disappointing experience!
8. Daytime activities, we can only liken these to a kindergarten! We did not pay to paint paper plates, thread beads onto string, or make a crepe dress and run around the ship, following the crew shouting I am the wind! On deck it was just as bad, tip a ping-pong ball from one paper cup to another! Needless to say we did not partake in any activity, a shame really with a little bit of imagination and an increase in the entertainment budget, all passengers could have had an enjoyable activity experience. Poor customer service
9. Tea & coffee – at the deck bar, self service restaurant and Montmatre restaurant were undrinkable due to the tainted water taste, however if buying a coffee in the Murano bar there was no tainted taste. Why was there such a significant difference? We can only surmise that it was yet another way to empty guests wallets!
10. The prices onboard were extortionate, grossly overpriced £20 for a cheap bottle of wine that can be bought for around £2 - £3 by the public, much cheaper for Costa as you buy in bulk, then add 15% service charge which adds insult to injury! Thankfully on a review site just 3 days before we left for the cruise we heard about the X1 package which we managed to purchase, but were told by the English speaking hostess to keep it quiet! Neither of us could be termed heavy drinkers, but this package should be advertised, guests pay vast amounts for this cruise, they are charged over the top prices onboard plus 15% service charge on everything and an additional £5 per day each. Tours were ultra expensive, hence we didn’t buy any tour package but at every port of call we managed to visit all the places the tours did and more besides for a quarter of the price. The cost of shuttle buses was also outrageous and on the one occasion we did take a shuttle bus, the time of departure from Manila was confusing, the Today programme stated 4.30, on the bus the sign said 5.00, the guide stated 5.30! Poor customer service.
11. The waiters and cabin crew together with the waitresses in the Murano bar were very helpful, well mannered and polite which far exceeded the attitude of your other customer facing crew, especially those in uniform who were surly, unhelpful and very abrupt.
12. Finally, we were at sea for 20 hours before any safety briefing on safety at sea and that was a very unorganised event, even worse for those joining the ship in Hong Kong, who got a life jacket waved at them in their welcome briefing, told it was in their cabin and they would find the muster point number on their cabin door. We are sure this breaches any basic safety at sea regulation. We can only hope there will never be an incident.
We feel that we paid 4 star prices for just about a 2 star experience, it had been our intention to book a further cruise with Costa for Christmas 2009, we certainly will not be doing so now, another company will get our business. Friends who were waiting for our return as they were considering a Costa cruise will also be spending their money elsewhere
Everyone we spoke to or came into contact with during our 14 days onboard were in despair over the poor service, high costs and lack of adult type entertainment.